The closer teens get to high school graduation, the more they start to think about what career path they want to take. Some teens have an idea of what they think they would like to do, and others have no clue. This is why career exploration is so important for teenagers. It gives them an opportunity to learn about different careers, and helps them decide whether a particular job is really for suited for them. Encourage your teen to explore as many careers as possible through educational activities.
If your child has shown interest in several careers, encourage her to research the careers and create a visual job report. She can use resources from the library and online to determine exactly what she would be doing in a particular position, the other positions that can lead to the job, the salary range, what education is required, what type of work hours to expect, how much travel is involved and what companies she could work for. Have her create a poster board visual for each job she is interested in. She should also write down the current skills and interests that she has related to each job. This will allow your teen to get a good snapshot of her career options and do side-by-side comparisons.
Encourage your teen to interview professionals working in the career fields she is interested in. If you know some people she could talk to, you can give her the contact information, but make her take the initiative to get the interview on her own. If you don't have a personal connection, your teen can check corporate websites, many of which have contact email addresses. Once she is able to schedule an interview, help her come up with intelligent interview questions that will give her a good idea of what the job entails. Ensure that she's aware of the person's time, however, and to keep it brief. Questions should include what a typical day is like, what challenges the person deals with, what education she needs and any advice on how to start on that particular career path.
Go beyond the informational interview and have your teen see whether she can shadow someone for the whole day in the career field she is interested in. This can be a little tougher to get unless you have a personal connection, but remind your teen that it doesn't hurt to ask. Your child should also check with her school's career resource center to see whether it has any job shadowing programs set up. On the day of the job shadow, ensure that your child is dressed appropriately. Remind your teen to be respectful and ask plenty of questions.
A high school internship can give your teen a leg up on her career aspirations. An internship will give your teen an in-depth look at the jobs she is interested in, doing basic tasks she might have to do in the future. Many companies across the country offer internships in partnership with high schools. Some schools allow teens to spend a whole day or a half-day once a week interning at a local company. If your teen's school does not have such a program, have your child do her internship in the summer when school is out. If your teen is going to college, some will allow students to put high school internships toward their college internship requirements.